Axios Twin Cities
March 12, 2021
Happy Friday! Raise your hand if you're ready for the weekend. 🙋 🙋♀️
- ⏰ Daylight saving time begins Sunday. Don't forget to "spring ahead" those clocks!
Situational awareness: As we previewed earlier this week, Gov. Tim Walz will announce an easing of coronavirus restrictions, including the number of people permitted at large events, such as Twins games.
- The governor said yesterday he expects events like proms and graduations to be "pretty close to normal" this summer. Tune in at 11am here.
Today's newsletter is 948 words — a 3 1/2-minute read.
1 big thing: Our yearlong state of emergency
On March 13, 2020, Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency to respond to COVID-19, saying he was "opening the toolbox" to protect Minnesotans.
- An unprecedented 365 days later — a milestone we hit tomorrow — the toolbox remains open.
Why it matters: The state of emergency has allowed the DFL governor and to act solo — and quickly — to address the pandemic.
- He's used his authority to issue 99 executive orders related to the pandemic, including business closures, the mask mandate and a moratorium on evictions.
- The orders require approval from a council of elected constitutional officers, all of whom are currently Democrats, but not the Legislature.
The big picture: It's not just Walz still relying on executive authority 12 months in. Fifty-three of 55 states and territories remain in an active state of emergency, per the National Governors Association.
The other side: The length and scope of Walz's emergency powers has rankled some legislators and voters, especially Republicans who describe his actions as an overreach.
- "No one person should have total control of state government," Senate Republican Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) wrote in a recent Star Tribune opinion piece. "There is too much at stake ... to not have other voices in the discussion."
- But efforts to end the emergency and rescind the orders via the Legislature and the courts have so far failed.
What's next: Legislators from both parties are pushing proposals to rein in the executive powers granted to the governor in state statutes.
- Walz has said he's open to winding down the emergency — if lawmakers in the divided Legislature agree to enact some of the key public health measures, including the mask mandate.
Flashback: On the day the state of emergency was declared, 14 Minnesotans had tested positive.
- As of yesterday, the state had logged 494,106 cases and 6,724 deaths.
2. What Target's big office news means for downtown
Target is switching to a flexible work model after the pandemic and will give up 1 million square feet of office space in downtown Minneapolis, all in the 52-story City Center tower.
Why it matters: The retailer is downtown's largest employer, with 8,500 workers.
- It means fewer high-paid employees eating, drinking and shopping downtown on a daily basis.
The big picture: 1 million square feet represents 4.5% of all downtown multi-tenant office space and 7.3% of all Class A downtown office space, according to CBRE Minneapolis numbers.
- Target will continue to occupy 2 million square feet elsewhere downtown and keep its Brooklyn Park campus.
What's next: Target has 10 years left on its lease at City Center and will have to find subleases.
- Nick talked to two real estate experts who said this decision could actually be good for downtown in the long-term because companies will be able to rent Class A office space at much lower prices, since Target will be happy to recoup costs.
The big picture: The trend to remote working is going to create a problem for suburban office parks as well.
- As we reported this week, Prime Therapeutics is also moving to a flexible plan and giving up 180,000 square feet in Bloomington's Normandale Lake Office Park.
3. Hundreds received affordable insulin under new law
More than 400 Minnesotans with diabetes received life-saving medication at low cost in the first six months of the state's new emergency insulin program, according to a new report from the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
The backdrop: The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which passed with bipartisan support last year, ensures access to a 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. The bill also created a long-term program for low-income residents who lack sufficient insurance.
- The goal of the bill, named after a 26-year-old Richfield man who died after rationing his insulin, was to save people from risking their health because of cost barriers.
By the numbers: More than 200 residents accessed a 30-day emergency supply last year, according to the manufacturers required to provide or pay for the medicine.
- Hundreds also enrolled in the "continuing need" program.
- The law, which the pharmaceutical industry is challenging in court, cost manufacturers more than $2 million.
4. Two new looks for Bde Maka Ska's pavilion
The pavilion on the north shore of Bde Maka Ska was destroyed in a fire two years ago, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a couple ideas for how it should be rebuilt.
- The above rendering is option A.
- Below is option B.
📫 Your turn: Tell the park board what you think here. Feel free to let us know, too!
5. Amy Klobuchar's powerful new perch
Sen. Amy Klobuchar's new role as chair of a powerful Senate panel is positioning the Minnesota Democrat as a formidable figure in pressing Congress' case against Big Tech, Axios' Ashley Gold reports.
Between the lines: Klobuchar has long been vocal on this issue, but now she can drive the Senate's agenda. In February, she introduced sweeping new antitrust legislation. This week, she reintroduced a bill along with House colleagues on antitrust changes for news media and Big Tech.
6. Catch up quick: A new path for the Blue Line
- 🚈 New route options for a proposal to extend the Blue Line from Target Field to Brooklyn Park would add more stops in North Minneapolis but skip over Golden Valley. (Star Tribune)
- 🧑⚖️ Derek Chauvin is once again facing third-degree murder charges following a ruling by Judge Peter Cahill. (Axios)
- 🔫 Gun ownership appears to be growing among liberals in Minnesota and beyond. (The Reformer)
- 🛍The pandemic promoted a run on roller skates and now manufacturers, including Red Wing's Riedell Shoes, are struggling to keep up with demand. (WSJ)
- 💵 A bill providing state tax relief to Minnesotans who got federal Paycheck Protection Program loans or pandemic unemployment benefits cleared the state Senate. (Pioneer Press)
7. 1 fun thing to go: Bryant Lake Bowl's Hollywood moment
A drone video promoting Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater is getting major applause from some of Hollywood's biggest players.
What they're saying: "This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen," "Coco" director Lee Unkrich wrote, per the New York Times.
- "This kind of wonderful photographic innovation adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema. Just beautiful," added Todd Vaziri, a veteran of "Star Wars" and "Transformers."
After sharing MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm's post-vaccine plans, we thought we'd ask: What are YOU most looking forward to doing once you get your shot(s)?
- Drop us a line by replying to this email and we might use your answer in a future newsletter. As always, you can remain anonymous.
😎 Enjoy the weekend! We'll see you back here Monday.